I used to live in Lincoln – a quiet, generally attractive English city mostly famous for an incredible cathedral, built at the top of a hill, which stares out across Lincolnshire and beyond.
I stared back at that cathedral every day – always meaning to go inside – but, inevitably, I only went in a few days before I was due to leave the city. I did the same two years later in Liverpool, cramming in a visit to the cathedral the very day I left.
Because, the fact is, tourists visit places. People who decide to live somewhere focus instead on homes, workplaces, supermarkets, hospitals. You always mean to visit the tourist places, experience the touristy stuff but, when you live somewhere, there’s always mañana. Except, sometimes, there isn’t.
I was pretty good in Bogotá – being a foreigner probably makes you more inclined to explore. But still, sitting in the airport waiting to fly away to Cartagena, I couldn’t help but scribble a list of all the things I wish I’d done:
1) I used to live in the Septima. In the Septima. Yet not once did I cycle the Ciclovia – not once did I take to a bike and take advantage of miles of liberated Bogotá roads. Shame on me. I never took a rowing boat out on the lake in Simon Bolivar park either. Fail.
2) I never danced through the sun rise at Piso 30 nightclub, nor did I party at El Coq or Teatron. Maybe I’m getting old. Scratch that, maybe I’m already old.
3) I must have eaten breakfast at every Park 93 breakfasterie except Ciboulette. I guess it’s on my list.
4) I wish I’d taken a break from the grey and the smog and walked out to Rio de la Vieja. It’s not exactly far.
5) I always looked at the aguardiente-laced coffee in Juan Valdez and chickened out. I’ve found two JVs in Cartagena, but somehow it’s not the same.
6) Once again you can walk to Monserratte. Do it for me.
7) There’s one of those fancy chemical restaurants in the Zona G. I think it’s called El Cielo. I should have gone, I’m a sucker for a dollop of foam.
8) I like Simon Bolivar as much as the next person. His old house down near Los Andes university looks all green and peaceful. From the outside at least.
9) La Macarena is a really cool place, all galleries and funky cafes. I always meant to spend a full day just wandering there but, well, you know…
10) The times I meant to go and visit the President. I mean, do the tour of Casa Nariño, have a good poke around his pad but, yes, you’ve guessed it…
Perhaps you wonder why I’m sharing this mildly depressing list now. On New Year’s Eve. Well, one of my resolutions – ironically starting tomorrow – is to do away with mañana. The time dear readers (particularly if you believe all that Mayan mumbo jumbo) is now.